Sunday, July 21, 2013

Hello, Self. So nice to make your acquaintance.

Do you ever forget who you are?

Working tonight with sticky hands and arms, intently focused on the papier-mâché in front of me, listening to music I love - I felt so alive and satisfied.  Alive!  If not happy, then sublimely contented!  Lost in the moment without care for anything else.

It's an intense, special sort of alive that I experience often when doing such things.  Molding papier-mâché, sculpting with clay, sketching, painting with oils.  Artsy endeavors where I am able to become immersed in the doing, and through which I can easily express myself.

And so much the more so when coupled with music that I love!

And yet...

And yet I go years sometimes without ever doing this.

Decades, even.

I am only just beginning to listen to music after several years without it having had any presence in my life.

I am only just beginning to again find or create projects for myself, or to find the time to sit and create when I feel a niggling urge or conceive a partial idea that I'd like to explore.

Where have I been all this time?

What have I been doing?

What has kept me away from that which makes me feel so much more myself?

Whatever the case, I am grateful to have stumbled back into it, and I hope I don't unintentionally stray so far away again any time soon.

Monday, June 24, 2013

My Thoughts on the 2012 film version of Les Miserables

I've finally managed to see the latest film version of Les Miserables

While I love and appreciate Hugh Jackman's character acting and the ways in which that filled out Jean Valjean - bringing dignity, strength, and intelligence to the character - I was at times underwhelmed with his singing. It was good, it just... didn't hit some of the best sung lines as strongly as some of the stage Valjeans that I have heard. 

And Javert... on the whole, I was sadly disappointed with Russell Crowe as Javert. 

Though I must confess I have never been a huge fan of the Thénardiers,, I did not particularly like the way Sacha Baren Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter played them in this film. In particular, while they brought some interesting color to the characters, I felt their musical presentation and sung lines were not as strong in the film as they have been with previous actors on stage.

Anne Hathaway was a deliciously poignant Fantine. Her performance stood apart from the rest of the film. I am not entirely sure about the choice to move "I Dreamed a Dream" to the end of so many of her trials and degredations (in the stage show it comes just after she has lost her job at the factory, before she has sold her hair or been forced into prostitution). The placement gives the song entirely new color and texture. It's very different. I'm still absorbing it. Speaking of degredations, Fantine in the book sells her teeth, but that has not previously been a part of stage productions. I am still absorbing its inclusion in the film, but I must confess that I found it somewhat incongruous to see terribly close shots of her face showing perfect white teeth in "I Dreamed a Dream" just a few scenes after she had supposedly sold and had (at least one or two of) her teeth roughly pulled.

I was surprised to find myself particularly taken, also, with Aaron Tveit's Enjolras. This is a character that I have never taken particular note of before, but what a tremendous stage presence he had!

Samantha Barks was a good Epoinine. Amanda Seyfried as Cosette was stunning to look at, though her singing was a bit too warbly and trilly for my taste. Eddie Redmayne played a quite decent Marius. Most other castings seemed good, if not great.

I wish that Tom Hooper had been a bit less heavy handed with the super-close ups, and with the constant camera view shifting. Sometimes it took a great deal of processing power to figure out what was going on in a scene with constant close up camera shifting between characters, when it would have been clear, easy to follow, and perhaps easier to appreciate the music and story if he had just stepped back with the cameras. And, if used somewhat less, the closeups might have had somewhat more emotional impact when he did use them.

My thoughts on the film aside, if you want to read a good comparison of previous Les Miserables stage versions to this film version, I found this four part review quite interesting.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Google, for shame.

I am on the verge of uninstalling all Google chat functionality from my android phone.

First, Google Talk updated itself to Google Hangouts.  Differences?  From what I can see, Google Hangouts does not order my contacts well, gives absolutely no indication of whether anyone is on or offline, and makes the path to initiate a new chat awkward at best.  This is a huge step back from Google Talk, which did all these things just fine.

To add insult to injury, it looks like Google Hangouts grabbed and imported every contact on my phone, including sim card contacts consisting of just names and phone numbers, with no warning or request for authorization. Way to violate my privacy.

I am not impressed, Google.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Why is it that all the responses I get must be spam?

Spammers, why is it that you must target me?

I write from my heart.  Really, I'd rather that noone reads what I write, than that spambot after spambot after spambot targets me.  Spambots, go away.  Go spam someone else's site.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Rest in Peace, Johanna Sällström

I know I am many years late experiencing and reacting to this, but I am very sad about and for Joanna Sällström. I just watched Hemligheten, the final episode of the first season of the Swedish TV series Wallander, where her character discovers Ola Rapace's character just after he, himself, has committed suicide. She was so beautifully but powerfully affected. Knowing what I did about her sad end, the scene was that much more unsettling.

Her portrayal of Linda Wallander has resonated strongly with me, and as someone who has struggled throughout my own lifetime with depression, I can relate more than I might like to her struggles off screen.

I found several lovely comments on this page -Johanna Sallstrom - A Modern Story - and agree with them heartily. Johanna Sällström, your life was too short.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Feels Like Home

I had ... a strong glimpse of a feeling of very connected home-ness in my home this morning.  Standing and making coffee with the sun shining through the window behind me on my back and on the counter in front of me, the guest room I recently finished putting together in my side vision, it felt for a moment the way I remember my grandmother's house felt to me when i was a child.  My grandmother's house was one of the warmest, most welcoming places I've always been, and is the root of some of my fondest memories.

Like, "Right here is a place I am happy to be, would be happy to visit, others might be happy to visit, and I have momentary sublime contentedness".

I think it's the first time I've felt that in this space, or in a space of my own, at all, ever, maybe.

Unrelated to this specific experience, but tied to this post's title: Chantal Kreviazuk, "Feels Like Home"

Nightmares vs. Night Terrors

Nightmares and Night Terrors.  One is not the other.  Ravenna used to have both - there was a period of time where she couldn't sleep for more than 4 hours at a time without waking to one or the other.

Do you know what a night terror is?  I've never had one, but here is what it is like from the outside:

Ravenna "wakes up" screaming uncontrollably, completely unresponsive to anyone talking to her, picking her up, walking around with her, trying to calm her down.

I'd pick her up, walk around a bit with her, trying to talk to her, and then sit and rock with her.  All the while she continues screaming and crying hysterically, for 30 minutes maybe, sometimes more, sometimes less.

Then she finally falls back asleep, and later has no memory of this ever having happened.

The unresponsiveness and the inability to effect her or help pull her out of it were what were most terrifying

She has not had one of these for more than a year now.  I am so grateful.

There is still the occasional nightmare, but I would much rather have that, where she's a bit afraid but we can talk through it and I can soothe her.  She likes to play a "nightmare game" that a therapist suggested to me, where she tells me about what she dreamt and then we think up a way that it can end being resolved in a better state.  A "good ending".  She finds this to be very soothing and empowering.